Visible signs of recent flooding can be found in damaged properties and waterlogged fields, but the lingering social impacts on local producers are harder to spot.
This August, Lac Ste. Anne County declared a State of Agricultural Disaster due to unprecedented rainfall for a third consecutive year. This has resulted in an inability for producers to harvest livestock feed, and degraded value for what little they are able to salvage. A catastrophic event like a flood brings with it obvious physical and financial fallout, but it also triggers social aftershocks as increasingly desperate farmers and ranchers deal with acute stress, clinical depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The impacts of flooding on the physical and mental health of regional producers can be extensive, and it often falls on family, friends and neighbours to spot the emotional consequences. You may not work in the ag sector — but you likely know someone who does. Keep an extra watchful eye on them. Stop by and see how they’re doing. Instead of saying “just let me know what you need,” asking “What do you need?” is more likely to elicit a response.
Alberta Health Services provides a 24-hour mental health hotline at 1.877.303.2642 for regional producers and their loved ones suddenly dealing with more than they can handle. If you see someone who’s struggling, please don’t let them suffer alone. By helping those hit hardest by recent events, we will keep the fabric of our communities strong.